Venice Sign Lit Up In Red, White And Blue For the Fourth Of July
How many bulbs does it take to light up the Venice Sign? 87, and we were there with self-dubbed "Team Light Bulb" as they swapped out several whites with red and blue to ready the L.A. landmark for the Fourth of July and Venice's 110th birthday.
Color changes happen three times per year. Green and red bulbs are added during the holidays and commences with a local celebrity flipping the switch at the annual Holiday Sign Lighting Ceremony and celebration. (Pink did the honors last year.) And for the first time in March, the letters went emerald green as the stealth lighting crew surprised the community by transforming the sign to O'Venice for St. Patrick's Day.
So who is "Team Light Bulb" and what other colorful ideas do they have planned for our iconic banner? Shortly after midnight, we met up with three guys responsible for this charmingly low-tech ritual. It started with a late-night text from George Francisco, vice president of the Venice Chamber of Commerce, who's behind many local projects and events including the Venice Symphony Orchestra, the Rose Ave. and Abbot Kinney block parties hosted at recent Venice Art Crawls, and most enthusiastically, a participant in all happenings Venice Sign-related. "It's happening tonight at midnight," he says. "Come over in 15, and we can ride on the lift out to the Circle."
He rents a mobile mechanical lift parked nearby at home, waiting for nights like tonight. Francisco organized the St. Paddy's Day display that included a custom-made O for O'Venice, and if his plans (and fundraisers) are successful, even more holiday/celebratory sign lightings will be added to the calendar. If they had more colored bulbs on hand last week, he says, they would have loved to make the sign rainbow following the Supreme Court's historic ruling to legalize gay marriage. He'd also like to see a sign lighting event for the Fourth of July starting next year.
"Let's just say we'd like next 4th of July to truly celebrate Venice's birthday and start a whole new community tradition," he says. "I'm aiming for epic, to bring the fun back to the 4th!"
Under the light of a bright full moon, Francisco and his partners David Moring, chairman of the Chamber's Sign Committee, and Todd Alter, their lighting director, unwrap a fresh box of red and blue LEDs and quickly get to work. Alter, the only one not squeamish of heights, rides up to the letter V and screws in each red bulb by hand. Moring, a local business attorney, who protects the legal use of the trademarked Venice Sign, is also on guard tonight, waving a cautionary flashlight to avoid any mishaps with passing cars and passersby. Even on a Tuesday, the neighborhood is restless with bar crawlers and midnight adventurers. A herd of CicLAvia riders zooms up from the Boardwalk, dinging their bells, whistling and waving to us as they veer south down Pacific, and a kid perched up on duffle bags is serenading the street with his guitar.
"This is Venice!" Francisco says. In less than an hour, the color swap is complete and the guys take a moment to capture it on their iPhones before the rest of us do the same.
If you'd like to adopt a bulb on the Venice Sign, help fund or recommend future color changes, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: The Venice Sign.
Venice Sign FYI
There are 87 bulbs in the Venice Sign.
The Venice Sign letters are 33" tall.
The original Venice Sign was taken down sometime in the '30s and wasn't replaced until 2007.
In 2007, the Venice Sign Restoration Project recreated and installed the contemporary version of this historic sign. Since that time the Venice Chamber has been responsible for maintaining the sign and for protecting its trademark.
Danny Samakow, who owns James Beach, Canal Club and Danny's was the mastermind who came up with the idea of celebrating the holidays by lighting the Venice Sign red and green. The first Holiday Sign Lighting Ceremony was held in 2012.
Pop star Pink lit the Venice Sign at the annual Holiday Sign Lighting Ceremony in 2014. Earlier that year, going by her name Alecia Moore, she released an acoustic album with Dallas Green that was titled Rose Ave.